Tapped to interview President Barack Obama on Super Bowl Sunday, professionally hostile Fox News host Bill O'Reilly insists he's deeply interested in what the president has to say. "We do want to hear his side," O'Reilly said last week. "I think that's the key thing. I'm genuinely interested in hearing his response to my questions."
If the Fox host wants to pay attention to Obama's comments, maybe he'll let the president actually answer his questions this year? In 2011, the last time O'Reilly sat down to interview Obama for a Super Bowl telecast, the host famously interrupted Obama.
He cut the president off, constantly interjected comments, and redirected the interview midstream. O'Reilly often asked Obama questions that required complicated answers and then jumped in with new ones after giving Obama just a few seconds to answer the first query. It seemed like he didn't want the president finish a sentence. O'Reilly kept up the constant stream of interruptions even when the interview shifted towards non-combative topics, such as the pending Super Bowl. (O'Reilly: "You know blitzes and coverage and all that?")
Here's the clip Wonkette put together of O'Reilly spending much of his 2011 White House interview trying to talk over Obama, butting in nearly 50 times during a 14-minute Q&A. (That's once every 17 seconds.)
But maybe that's just O'Reilly's style, right? Perhaps he's trying to drill down and not let his interview subject off the hook? Following the Super Bowl interview, O'Reilly defended his interview-by-intrusion by insisting, "The truth is that TV interviewers who want to get answers must--must--interrupt their guests."
But when he sat with President George W. Bush for an exclusive interview in 2006, those trademark O'Reilly interruptions were nowhere to be seen. Previewing his three-part interview with Bush, O'Reilly told viewers that you "cannot be confrontational with the president of the United States. You can be direct, but you can't be disrespectful." He certainly kept his word during his sit-down with Bush.
Noted one analysis:
In the entire 14-minute interview of Obama in 2011 the President's longest answer was 51 seconds long. President Bush's first answer to O'Reilly's question lasts 69 seconds. Later in the interview Bush is allowed to speak for two minutes straight, something President Obama could have only dreamed of 2011.
See here as O'Reilly sat respectfully silent and stone-faced while Bush answered question after question, uninterrupted, for more than a minute at a time.
The Fox hosts insists he respects the presidency and wants to get Obama's take on key issues. If so, he should let the president actually answer the questions this year.